The festivities kick off tomorrow for the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race, with the Alicante In-Port Race. We’ve published a comprehensive guide to the In-Port race, as well as a list of places where you can follow the race live.
Today the skippers had their final press conference before everything begins, and here’s what they had to say.
Ian Walker, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing:
“Every time we go sailing we learn something new. Today’s course was perfect to practice our boat handling manoeuvres. This race has come round pretty quickly for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing but it’s a tremendous voyage for our team and for Abu Dhabi. It’s a tremendous adventure. The question I get asked all the time is ‘who do you think is going to win the race. For the first time in a few editions of the race, if you asked all the skippers that question you’d get different answers. Genuinely no-one has any idea. If we got ourselves up to a level where we could be considered on the same par as the likes of the great sailing teams like Groupama, Telefónica, PUMA and Emirates Team New Zealand then we’ve already done a good job and hopefully we can go a lot further.”
Mike Sanderson, Team Sanya:
“We’re incredibly proud to be representing a nation such as China. This campaign is all about trying to ignite the Chinese nation and media to embrace ocean racing and the Volvo Ocean Race in particular. We want to do them proud. It’s going to be a tough campaign for Team Sanya as the only older generation boat in the race but we’re here to take any opportunity which these guys leave open for us. As we saw today it was all about putting your boat in the right place at the right time. We’re hoping to be there or there abouts as often as possible.”
Iker Martínez, Team Telefónica:
“As you saw today having more people out supporting you is great. It’s going to be an advantage for us. It’s also been an advantage for us to spend all this time at home before the race. We’ve been in Alicante almost one and a half months. To be a bit more relaxed has made us a bit more fresh I think. The In-Port Race is going to be the same for all of the teams. The course will be tough and it will make for a good race.”
Franck Cammas, Groupama sailing team:
“This race is the biggest challenge of my career. After the Jules Verne Trophy and sailing round the world alone, facing these guys is harder. We have to work on the inshore race, maybe it’s not a speciality for us. But it’s very exciting, I like this kind of race, and we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Chris Nicholson, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand:
“We had a fair bit of good fortune at the start. On the plus side for us was our crew manoeuvres and general boat handling. We’ve been sailing for a while now so our guys, our shore crew, our structure are in good shape. It’s nice now to get down to the business end, go race an in-port and then start our off shore next week.”
Ken Read, PUMA Ocean Racing:
“These boats are made to go out in the ocean, so honestly we’re all nursing these things around the course on a day like today, trying to get around in one piece. It’s hard, this really isn’t what these boats are made for. The winner of tomorrow’s race if you look back in history, two editions ago ABN AMRO ONE, who won the race convincingly, came in dead last in the first in-port race; and in the last edition Ericsson 4, who won the race convincingly, was fourth in the first in-port race. I don’t’ think it determines a winner. But of course any time people like this group, and the entire group of sailors, get on a staring line they’re going to compete as hard as humanly possibly, but I just don’t think we should, and our team certainly won’t, read into winning and losing as something that’s going to stick with us down the road. It’s fun, but there’s a lot of race to go.”